E.g., 08/17/2022
E.g., 08/17/2022
12/28/2021

Checks against INTERPOL databases detected 19 wanted persons subject to Red Notices

LYON, FRANCE: Terrorism and organized crime are invariably linked to the illicit trafficking of firearms, often across borders.

A recent INTERPOL-led operation codenamed Trigger-Salvo saw law enforcement from 10 countries in Central, East and Southeast Asia coordinate in a series of border enforcement actions aimed at preventing firearms trafficking and detecting any links with terrorism and organized crime.  

During a two-week period (25 October – 5 November), participating law enforcement agencies conducted enhanced passenger and cargo controls at designated airports, seaports, and land borders as well as at known smuggling routes within the participating countries. Data from the screening of individuals, travel documents and vehicles was then cross-checked against INTERPOL’s global databases, enabling officers to identify wanted persons and potential threats.

The operation notably saw Mongolian law enforcement destroy a cache of 2,000 illegal firearms, seized over a period of three years.

“Mongolia’s decision to destroy these firearms symbolises our commitment to Operation Trigger-Salvo and to enhancing security in the wider region,” said Police Lieutenant Colonel Nyamdavaa Bayasgalan, Chief Inspector of Mongolia’s INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Ulaanbaatar.

Three million searches

In total, nearly 3 million searches were conducted during Operation Trigger-Salvo, yielding more than 140 hits. The vast majority concerned individuals using travel documents reported lost or stolen and 19 individuals subject to INTERPOL Red Notices were also detected.

Through cargo inspections, nearly 34,000 packages and mail items were screened while more than 1,200 packages and general cargo were thoroughly inspected. Meanwhile, more than 12,000 vehicles were searched.

These checks led to the seizure of more than 800 firearm parts and 22 firearms, as well as nearly 10,000 ecstasy tablets worth approximately EUR 290,000.

More than 1,800 immigration-related offences were also detected, resulting in 64 arrests for people smuggling and five Thai nationals arrested for facilitating, transporting, and allowing the illegal entry of a person or persons across the Thai-Myanmar Border. The migrants smuggled were being brought to work illegally in Central Thailand.

Mobile phone stun guns

Many of the firearms parts seized during Operation Trigger-Salvo were uncovered by law enforcement in Hong Kong (China), including 750 during a single inspection of an express consignment en route to Italy.

In another case at the Hong Kong International Airport several days later, customs officials recovered 10 stun guns disguised as ordinary electronics such as mobile phones and vehicle transponders.

“Curbing the transnational flow of illegal weapons in Central, East and Southeast Asia is challenging due to porous borders, difficult terrain, regional conflicts, the drug trade, and the presence of terrorist groups and organized crime syndicates,” said Karel Pelan, Assistant Director, Terrorist Networks at INTERPOL.

“Operations like Trigger-Salvo demonstrate that concrete results can be achieved in the fight against firearms trafficking when law enforcement coordinates internationally and leverages INTERPOL capabilities to keep these weapons out of the wrong hands.”

The successes of Operation Trigger-Salvo were made possible through close collaboration between the following participating countries: Brunei, Cambodia, China (including the Chinese jurisdictions of Hong Kong and Macau), Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

Operation Trigger-Salvo was funded by the Government of the People’s Republic of China and supported by ASEANAPOL and the World Customs Organization.

https://www.interpol.int

12/27/2021

Ukraine considers IT tools to be the basis for effective fight against corruption and is ready to share with the international community its experience in implementing them.

This was stated by Deputy Chairman of the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption, Oleksandr Starodubtsev, at the 9th Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption, according to the NAPC press service.

"We believe that international cooperation is vital to combating corruption, and we are ready not only to talk about our experience, but also to prove our commitment to the UN Convention. We are ready to share the code of these products and adapt it to the needs of your organization. To help you develop a user-friendly interface and provide you with effective design solutions,” Starodubtsev said in an address to the countries participating in the Conference.

Starodubtsev's speech was dedicated to six innovative anti-corruption tools applied by the NAPC, designed to create a new system of relations between the state and its citizens.

Among them are the Register of Declarations, the Register of Political Party Reports POLITDATA, the Anti-Corruption Portal, the Concealed Interests Portal, the Register of Corrupt Persons, and the Corruption Reporting Portal, which will soon be presented by the Agency. Oleksandr Starodubtsev spoke about the main technical characteristics of the said tools and the results of their implementation.

According to the deputy chairman of the NAPC, today the world economy depends on rapid transactions, mobile banking, and cryptocurrency. Crisis conditions such as COVID-19 affect the way people act and create more opportunities for corruption. Thus, anti-corruption bodies cannot maintain outdated approaches to tackling graft as long as offenders operate in the digital domain.

To address the issue, the Ukrainian delegation proposed that a dedicated platform be developed for the exchange of best digital practices and tools applied around the world, similar to that of Europol's cybercrime cooperation.

He added that for truly effective cooperation in this area, it is especially important that all countries today share common data standards. In the future, this will facilitate data sharing and improve existing anti-corruption mechanisms.

The 9th Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption was held in Egypt on December 13-17.

https://www.ukrinform.net

12/23/2021

The Central Bank of The Bahamas (CBOB) and Group of Financial Services Regulators’ (GFSR) Bahamas Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Report for 2019 to 2020 reveals that The Bahamas’ real estate, gaming and money transmission sectors have the highest AML/CFT risks of those sectors regulated by the CBOB and GFSR.

According to the report, for the real estate and gaming sectors the risks straddle domestic and international clients. With regard to the money transmission business, the CBOB said it would take steps to intensify its supervision of the industry. In terms of banking, the report found the sector to be a low AML/CFT risk.

Despite the findings that risks in those sectors are high, the report revealed that there is no material evidence to suggest high levels of illegal activity. “The Bahamian authorities have in recent years considered money laundering and terrorist financing risks throughout the Bahamian economy,” the report states.

“From this process, the authorities have accumulated sufficient information to increase their focus on areas where the risks are higher and reduce focus on areas where risks are low or insignificant. “In the domestic banking context, the major AML/CFT risks are likely to reside in real estate, gaming, and money transmission and the risks in the first two of these segments are shared between domestic and international clients.

“Aside from above cited exceptions, the Central Bank’s view is that domestic money laundering risks in the banking sector are quantitatively small and in character (except small-ticket self-laundering) are qualitatively low risk. This leads to the conclusion that the Central Bank, in conjunction with other Bahamian authorities, should focus its AML/CFT efforts on the relatively few areas of the domestic banking system that may present material risk, while concentrating most of our efforts upon the much larger international financial sector.”

According to information in the report by Compliance Commission of The Bahamas (CC) Inspector Andrew Strachan, there has been a focus on ensuring that designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBPs) such as lawyers, real estate agents and dealers in precious metals and stones (DPMS) understand their own reporting obligations. Strachan stated that the Compliance Commission has had to cite and issue fines against numerous firms for non-compliance.

This is the second edition of the AML/CFT report. The first edition was launched in 2019. “The report aims to amalgamate the various AML/CFT work conducted by regulatory bodies and public/private agencies, highlighting the increased inter-agency cooperation and industry participation within The Bahamas regarding financial crime risk management,” the document explains.

https://thenassauguardian.com

12/22/2021

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) said it would embed in anti-money laundering regulation requirements that gold refineries source from responsible suppliers and undergo annual audits to ensure they are doing so.

The move is part of efforts by the UAE, one of the world’s main gold trade hubs, to crack down on trading of bullion linked to crime, human rights abuses or conflict.

In November it said it would make gold refiners join a “UAE Good Delivery Standard” certification scheme that would set responsible sourcing rules, but a minister later said refiners could choose whether to join.

Asked to clarify, the economy ministry said certification would be voluntary but responsible sourcing would not.

“The anti-money laundering department will enforce responsible sourcing procedures in refineries irrespective of whether they have sought membership of UAE Good Delivery,” it said.

“All refineries operating in the UAE are required to undergo a responsible sourcing audit.”

The ministry said it would introduce the rules from February 1, 2022, the same day the UAE Good Delivery Standard is launched.

It said the rules would follow the blueprint set out by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development on which most responsible sourcing standards around the world are modelled.

It did not give details of penalties for refiners that do not meet the requirements.

https://www.timeslive.co.za

12/21/2021

The Fiji Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and the China Anti-Money Laundering Monitoring and Analysis Center (CAMLMAC) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will enable the two agencies to exchange relevant information and intelligence.

The signing was conducted via postal mail in October.

According to a statement from the FIU, the agencies aimed to establish and strengthen cooperation to more effectively perform their statutory functions under their respective laws.

FIU director Razim Buksh said that international partnership was critical when investigating transnational and complex financial crimes, such as cybercrime and fraud, “particularly in tracing money flows associated with international criminal enterprises and their syndicates”.

“The FIU is empowered under the FTR Act to enter into bilateral MOUs with foreign FIUs and foreign law enforcement agencies to exchange information relevant to the prevention, investigation and prosecution of offences related to money laundering, terrorism financing and other serious criminal activities,” Mr Buksh said.

The FIU has signed bilateral MOUs with 30 foreign FIUs and is a member of the Egmont Group of FIUs, and presently comprise 167 FIUs from around the world.

https://www.fijitimes.com

12/20/2021

The Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) and the Financial Investigations Division (FID) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at strengthening their response to, among other things, money laundering, organised crime, fraud and financial crime.

Jamaica - The MoU was signed by MOCA's Director General Colonel Desmond Edwards and the FID's Chief Technical Director Selvin Hay during an event staged at MOCA's Oxford Road office in St Andrew.

The agreement will enhance the effective working relationship between FID and MOCA and deepen the areas of collaboration between the organisations.

These include, but are not limited to, information/intelligence sharing, casework assistance, referrals (including criminal referrals), and joint operations and investigations.

“The mandates, responsibilities and functions of the FID and MOCA are complementary – tackling public sector corruption, removing the profit from crime and disrupting organised criminal networks. MOCA is the FID's closest partner; both organisations have always enjoyed an excellent working relationship and this MoU solidifies that,” said Hay in a statement today.

We anticipate that under this MoU there will be increased use of the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) by our MOCA counterparts. It is a powerful piece of legislation which should be readily used by all law enforcement agencies. When applied more robustly, we can expect to bring more criminal organisations and individuals to justice,” he added.

For his part, Edwards noted that the MOU will formalise a longstanding relationship between MOCA and the FID.

“It will allow for greater synchronisation of our efforts while further strengthening our existing relationships. The MOU will also create better utilisation of the finite resources available to both agencies and give greater leveraging of information and intelligence relating to significant financial investigations.”

https://jamaica-gleaner.com

12/17/2021

The Libyan government has sought permission to subpoena records from several major US banks due to alleged links to looting billions of dollars from Libya by its former dictator Mummar Al Qaddafi, Bloomberg writes.

In its filing Thursday in Manhattan federal court, the Libyan Asset Recovery and Management Office (LARMO) says that JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., and six other large banks may have information about the money Qaddafi, his family, and associates stole.

According to LARMO, the accused transferred the money through Bank of America Corp., UBS Group AG, HSBC Holdings PLC, Credit Suisse Group AG, Bank of New York Mellon Corp., Deutsche Bank AG., and Citi and JPMorgan.

The agency estimates that at least tens of billions of dollars worth of assets that Qaddafi and his agents stole remain missing.

In a statement Thursday, LARMO legal team said that effort could become the largest international asset recovery in history.

LARMO was set up in 2017, with UN and EU support to recover stolen Libyan assets during Qaddafi’s era. The agency says its goal is to track down money looted through corrupt business deals and embezzlement of government funds.

 

https://www.libyaobserver.ly

12/16/2021

Philippines _ BANKING FRAUD losses climbed to P1 billion so far this year, as cybercrime rose alongside the increase in digital transactions amid the lockdown.

“I think the losses this year [from] unauthorized withdrawals and unauthorized branch transfers, it’s more than a billion pesos. That’s the latest estimate,” Ramon L. Jocson, the cybersecurity committee vice chair of the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP), said on Wednesday.     

The volume of cybercrimes this year is now three times higher than in 2019, Mr. Jocson said.

“The figures that I quoted are those that have been reported to us. Take note that in some cases, some of the victims don’t even bother to report anymore,” Mr. Jocson, who is also chief operating officer at Bank of the Philippine Islands, said.

Mr. Jocson cited a study by Cisco Systems, Inc. which found that 57% of small- and medium-sized businesses in the country experienced a cyberattack in the past year.

“This emerging new normal has given rise to a variety of cyberattacks, which have been evolving and becoming more complex. The Philippines is one of the fastest-growing economies in the Asia-Pacific, but is also considered to be one of the countries most vulnerable to cyberattacks,” BAP President Jose Arnulfo A. Veloso said.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno has earlier said that a major cyberattack could affect the stability of the financial system.

The BAP on Wednesday launched an anti-scam campaign to promote cybersecurity awareness. It signed a memorandum of understanding with the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) for information dissemination efforts.

“What we would like to do is to give the KBP and their members the ability to identify what we see as the usual modus operandi of these perpetrators by sharing cases of how they are able to do their work,” Mr. Veloso, who is also the president and chief executive officer of Philippine National Bank, said.

He said the BAP’s main goal is to prevent bank clients from incurring losses due to cyberattacks.

Mr. Veloso said they will be partnering with the Department of Justice to implement a training program for enforcers and prosecutors.

The BSP earlier said 13% of the 20,000 consumer concerns they received in 2020 were about fraudulent and unauthorized transactions. 

Separately, the Anti-Money Laundering Council found that 49% of suspicious transaction reports since the March 2020 lockdown until Aug. 31 last year were related to skimming, phishing, and unauthorized transactions as well.

https://www.bworldonline.com

 

12/15/2021

Operation Turquesa III

LYON, France – An operation led by INTERPOL targeting migrant smuggling and human trafficking across the Americas has sparked 216 arrests and the identification of more than 10,000 irregular migrants from 61 different countries.

Operation Turquesa III (29 November – 3 December) saw authorities in 34 countries carry out targeted, coordinated enforcement actions against criminal networks believed to be moving vulnerable men, women and children across borders for profit.

While many of the migrants reported paying exorbitant fees to take often-dangerous journeys, other victims faced continued exploitation. In total, authorities rescued 127 human trafficking victims from forced labour and sexual exploitation during the operation.

A dedicated operational coordination unit in Mexico City and a support unit at the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security’s (CARICOM IMPACS) Joint Regional Communications Centre (JRCC) supported participating countries throughout the weeklong operation. Some 65,000 checks were carried out against INTERPOL’s databases at air, land and sea borders as well as 98 strategic checkpoints across four continents.

Turquesa III operational highlights

-Authorities in El Salvador arrested 14 suspected migrant smugglers believed to have charged their victims between USD 8,000 and 12,000 to reach the United States.

-In Ecuador, authorities arrested 16 Ecuadorian and Venezuelan nationals suspected of belonging to the ‘Tren de Aragua’ gang and working with an armed group in Colombia to smuggle Haitian migrants.

-In Chile, authorities discovered the body of a Venezuelan national near the border with Bolivia, leading them to identify a smuggling corridor for Venezuelan migrants, facilitated by a Bolivian citizen.

-Brazil’s Federal Police arrested five members of an organized crime group suspected of facilitating the irregular migration of Haitian nationals from Brazil to Bolivia.

-The CARICOM IMPACS JRCC unit received crucial information linking a known smuggler in Brazil to a Pakistani national, enabling them to warn authorities in Guyana about the pending arrival of six other Pakistani nationals looking to make their way to the US.

-Mexican authorities seized 19,370 blank passports which were then added to INTERPOL’s travel and identity documents database. One of those passports was subsequently detected at Mexico City’s International Airport, when a Cuban citizen from Panama was caught trying to enter the country.

-Migrants continued to undertake difficult journeys by sea, with authorities in Turks and Caicos, Curacao and the United States detecting dangerously full vessels.

-Several countries in the Caribbean detected the use of fraudulent Spanish and Portuguese identity and travel documents.

The reinforced border controls also led to some notable arrests outside the operation’s target crime areas:

-El Salvador officials arrested a Costa Rican attempting to smuggle USD 83,000 worth of illicit medicines into the country.

-Portuguese officers arrested two individuals subject to INTERPOL Red Notices, wanted for fraud and manslaughter respectively.

-Panamanian authorities detected the subject of a Red Notice requested by Venezuela for fraud and money laundering.

Trafficking in children

A notable difference between this year’s results and previous iterations of Operation Turquesa was the number of children taken across borders for the purpose of exploitation, often sexual. All of the identified victims were taken into protective care and received assistance.

-Colombian authorities dismantled a criminal organization known as the ‘Casa Inglesa’ involved in human trafficking for sexual exploitation of children in Bogota. An INTERPOL Purple Notice was also published at Colombia’s request, detailing a modus operandi whereby children were being recruited in Venezuela and smuggled via Colombia to Ecuador for sexual exploitation.

-27 people in El Salvador were arrested on child sexual abuse and child labour offences.

-In Belize, authorities identified 11 possible victims of trafficking, including a Honduran mother and her three children.

-Paraguayan and Argentinian authorities worked together to rescue a child being trafficked for sexual exploitation.

-Mexico requested the publication of four INTERPOL Red Notices against individuals suspected of human trafficking for sexual exploitation and storing and publishing child sexual abuse images.

International, cross-sector cooperation key.

Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL’s Secretary General, recognized the strong mobilization and coordination behind Turquesa III: “INTERPOL and our partners remain relentless in our collective mission to protect the vulnerable from criminal groups. Each operation reinforces our network, casting a wider net against organized crime. By working together, we dismantle criminal structures, we cut off major sources of profit and most importantly, we rescue innocent victims.”

Beyond the backing of INTERPOL’s global membership and infrastructure, Operation Turquesa III received key operational support from:

-CARICOM IMPACS, which engaged with Caribbean countries and hosted the support unit in the JRCC headquarters in Barbados;

-The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, which provided judicial support through the specialized REDTRAM network and will continue to do so in the follow-up to the operation;

-The International Organization Migration, which provided assistance to migrants and trafficking victims;

-Europol, which cross-checked information against their databases.

Participating countries

Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Suriname, Turks & Caicos, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela.

Operation Turquesa III was supported by Project Proteger with funding from Global Affairs Canada. Project Proteger aims to both curb migrant smuggling in the Americas and build regional law enforcement capacity in planning, implementing and evaluating police actions with a gender-sensitive approach.

https://www.interpol.int

12/14/2021

A global conference to boost investigation, detection and disruption of networks behind virtual assets based money laundering

LYON, France – A global online virtual assets conference has concluded with a call to protect the world’s financial systems by increasing multi-sector cooperation to strengthen cryptocurrency crime investigations.

Co-organized by INTERPOL, Europol and the Basel Institute on Governance, the 5th Global Conference on Criminal Finances and Cryptocurrencies was hosted virtually by the Basel Institute.

The two-day (7-8 December) event brought more than 3,000 people from law enforcement, public and private sectors, policy institutions and academia from 130 countries under a virtual roof to explore trends, strategies and tactics in tackling crimes involving virtual assets.

With blockchain, bitcoin and other virtual currencies permitting swift, anonymous financial transfers to anywhere in the world, delegates focused on developing law enforcement tools, skillsets, knowledge and resources to prevent such technologies being used to launder illegally gained assets.

Discussions highlighted the fast-evolving fields of decentralised finance and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), regulatory developments affecting anti-money laundering compliance, crypto-enabled fraud and the possibilities that governments have to recover illicit assets even if they are virtual.

A new normal

On the second day of the conference, which was restricted to law enforcement circles, speakers shared their experiences in national and regional cryptocurrency investigations, demonstrating new methodologies for exploring criminal flows and operations in dark markets and decentralized money laundering scams.

Discussion panels highlighted the fundamental importance of a clear, harmonized regulatory global framework to prevent money laundering.

The conferences closed with the endorsement of a set of recommendations to strengthen skillsets, improve knowledge, boost expertise and encourage best practices for improved illegal assets investigations “Cryptocurrencies are changing the landscape of the criminal underworld, and we need to work together to prevent virtual assets from becoming safe havens for illegal financial transactions,” said Ilana de Wild, INTERPOL’s Director of Organized and Emerging Crime.  

 “Protecting citizens and the global economy from the abuse of cryptocurrencies and other virtual assets is a task that requires concerted and sustained action by law enforcement working hand in hand with government authorities, regulators and the private sector, which is why this kind of global, multi-sector event is key to global security”  added Director de Wild.

The annual conference is organised by the Working Group on Criminal Finances and Cryptocurrencies, a tripartite initiative of the Basel Institute on Governance, INTERPOL and Europol established in 2016.

INTERPOL is strengthening the support services it provides to police forces in its 195 member countries to boost their national efforts to tackle financial crime with the creation of a new Financial Crimes Directorate in January 2022.

https://www.interpol.int

12/13/2021

Investigation reveals money mules were laundering profits from online fraud schemes such as business email compromise and Forex scams.

 

Today saw the conclusion of the anti-money mule operation EMMA 7, an international action coordinated by Europol in cooperation with 26 countries, Eurojust, INTERPOL, the European Banking Federation (EBF) and the FinTech FinCrime Exchange. The operation resulted in 1 803 arrests and the identification of over 18 000 money mules. It also revealed that money mules were being used to launder money for a wide array of online scams such as sim-swapping, man in the middle attacks, e-commerce fraud and phishing.

 

Over roughly two and a half months of operations, EMMA 7 saw law enforcement, financial institutions and the private sector, including Western Union, Microsoft and Fourthline, cooperate in a concerted effort against money laundering in Europe, Asia, North America, Colombia and Australia. As well as targeting the laundering of profits through money muling networks, investigators also sought intelligence on the sources of these illicit profits, shedding more light on the size and nature of the criminal economies that money mules serve. 

Results from 15 September – 30 November

-18 351 money mules identified;

-324 recruiters/herders identified;

-1 803 arrested individuals;

-2 503 investigations initiated;

-7 000 fraudulent transactions reported;

-€67.5 million prevented losses.

 

Collaborating in the fight on money laundering

This was the seventh iteration of the European Money Mule Action, or ‘EMMA’, which was established in 2016 on the initiative of Europol, Eurojust and the European Banking Federation. It is the largest international operation of its kind, built around the idea that public-private information sharing is key to fighting complex modern crimes. Around 400 banks and financial institutions supported the action, reporting 7000 fraudulent transactions and preventing a total loss estimated at nearly €70 million.

EMMA 7 works based on private sector actors reporting incidences of suspicious or possibly illegal financial conduct to national law enforcement authorities. Similarly, law enforcement can ask financial actors to look into its own intelligence on potential money mules. With these inputs, law enforcement can paint a picture of laundering networks and then decide in each case how to react to the possible money muling activity.

EMMA provides a means for all these actors to confer, sharing intelligence that will help identify possible money mules and potentially lead to arrests. Europol supports each stage of the preparation by connecting the law enforcement partners and private sector partners and facilitating information exchange between them. In the operational phase, Europol provided analytical support that connected the transnational cases with the money muling networks behind them.

Most of the investigations under EMMA 7 focused on the international dimension of muling. Money muling operations see mules not only transferring money between countries, but also travelling between countries themselves in order to set up bank accounts overseas. Criminals can then use these accounts later on in support of the money laundering process. 

Awareness as important as action

The complexity of money muling operations, and law enforcement’s response to them, reflect how muling networks are created. Unlike many financial crimes, money mules can be recruited unknowingly into the criminal operation. The organised crime groups do this by preying on groups such as students, immigrants, and those in economic distress, offering easy money through legitimate-looking job adverts and social media posts.

Ignorance is not an excuse when it comes to the law and money muling; they are breaking the law by laundering the illicit proceeds of crime. For this reason, Europol coordinated the ‘#DontBeAMule’ awareness campaign with all participant countries, law enforcement and the EBF on behalf of the European banks, as a means to prevent more innocent bystanders being exploited by criminals and putting themselves at risk. 

Eurojust participated in the operation via its dedicated liaison officer and stands ready to support cross-border investigations and judicial cooperation at the request of the national authorities involved.

EMMA is under the EMPACT Sub Priority Cybercrime NCPF (Non Cash means of Payment Fraud), and is led by the Netherlands.

Participating countries: Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Colombia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Moldova, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, United Kingdom, United States.

https://www.europol.europa.eu

12/10/2021

Investigation reveals money mules were laundering profits from online fraud schemes such as business email compromise and Forex scams.

 

Today saw the conclusion of the anti-money mule operation EMMA 7, an international action coordinated by Europol in cooperation with 26 countries, Eurojust, INTERPOL, the European Banking Federation (EBF) and the FinTech FinCrime Exchange. The operation resulted in 1 803 arrests and the identification of over 18 000 money mules. It also revealed that money mules were being used to launder money for a wide array of online scams such as sim-swapping, man in the middle attacks, e-commerce fraud and phishing.

 

Over roughly two and a half months of operations, EMMA 7 saw law enforcement, financial institutions and the private sector, including Western Union, Microsoft and Fourthline, cooperate in a concerted effort against money laundering in Europe, Asia, North America, Colombia and Australia. As well as targeting the laundering of profits through money muling networks, investigators also sought intelligence on the sources of these illicit profits, shedding more light on the size and nature of the criminal economies that money mules serve. 

Results from 15 September – 30 November

-18 351 money mules identified;

-324 recruiters/herders identified;

-1 803 arrested individuals;

-2 503 investigations initiated;

-7 000 fraudulent transactions reported;

-€67.5 million prevented losses.

 

Collaborating in the fight on money laundering

This was the seventh iteration of the European Money Mule Action, or ‘EMMA’, which was established in 2016 on the initiative of Europol, Eurojust and the European Banking Federation. It is the largest international operation of its kind, built around the idea that public-private information sharing is key to fighting complex modern crimes. Around 400 banks and financial institutions supported the action, reporting 7000 fraudulent transactions and preventing a total loss estimated at nearly €70 million.

EMMA 7 works based on private sector actors reporting incidences of suspicious or possibly illegal financial conduct to national law enforcement authorities. Similarly, law enforcement can ask financial actors to look into its own intelligence on potential money mules. With these inputs, law enforcement can paint a picture of laundering networks and then decide in each case how to react to the possible money muling activity.

EMMA provides a means for all these actors to confer, sharing intelligence that will help identify possible money mules and potentially lead to arrests. Europol supports each stage of the preparation by connecting the law enforcement partners and private sector partners and facilitating information exchange between them. In the operational phase, Europol provided analytical support that connected the transnational cases with the money muling networks behind them.

Most of the investigations under EMMA 7 focused on the international dimension of muling. Money muling operations see mules not only transferring money between countries, but also travelling between countries themselves in order to set up bank accounts overseas. Criminals can then use these accounts later on in support of the money laundering process. 

Awareness as important as action

The complexity of money muling operations, and law enforcement’s response to them, reflect how muling networks are created. Unlike many financial crimes, money mules can be recruited unknowingly into the criminal operation. The organised crime groups do this by preying on groups such as students, immigrants, and those in economic distress, offering easy money through legitimate-looking job adverts and social media posts.

Ignorance is not an excuse when it comes to the law and money muling; they are breaking the law by laundering the illicit proceeds of crime. For this reason, Europol coordinated the ‘#DontBeAMule’ awareness campaign with all participant countries, law enforcement and the EBF on behalf of the European banks, as a means to prevent more innocent bystanders being exploited by criminals and putting themselves at risk. 

Eurojust participated in the operation via its dedicated liaison officer and stands ready to support cross-border investigations and judicial cooperation at the request of the national authorities involved.

EMMA is under the EMPACT Sub Priority Cybercrime NCPF (Non Cash means of Payment Fraud), and is led by the Netherlands.

Participating countries: Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Colombia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Moldova, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, United Kingdom, United States.

https://www.europol.europa.eu

12/09/2021

Europol has supported the Maltese Authorities in investigating an organised crime group suspected of having laundered over €20 million through Malta.

Other foreign jurisdictions were partners in the investigation. A total of 7 suspects of Libyan and Maltese origin were arrested across the Maltese islands on 29 November for their involvement in this money-laundering scheme. 

The suspects are believed to have laundered millions in illicit funds through five Maltese companies which the criminal group controlled. The funds were for the most part sent to Turkey using both cash couriers and the informal hawala money transfer system.

The investigation is ongoing to identify the origin of these ill-acquired funds, believed to be linked with tax evasion and other criminal offences.

On the occasion of the action day, some €70 000 in cash was seized, alongside a considerable amount of jewellery, branded clothing and watches, luxurious vehicles, foreign number plates and electronic equipment with an approximate value of €5 million.

Europol support     

Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre (EFECC) has supported this investigation since June 2020, providing continuous analysis to support the Maltese investigators in developing the intelligence on this criminal group.

During the action day, Europol deployed a specialist to Malta to support the investigators with real-time cross-checks and document analysis. 

https://www.europol.europa.eu

12/08/2021

LYON, France – A worldwide enforcement operation against wildlife and timber crime coordinated by INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization (WCO) has disrupted crime networks and seen hundreds of arrests worldwide.

Codenamed Thunder 2021, the month-long (1-31 October) operation involved customs, police, financial intelligence units and wildlife and forestry enforcement agencies in 118 countries: the largest number of participating countries since the annual operation started in 2017. Thousands of cars, trucks and cargo ships suspected of transporting protected wildlife and timber were searched at checkpoints in all regions, often with specialist sniffer dogs and X-ray scanners.

Searches targeted illegally traded CITES-listed specimens, ranging from timber to live big cats, primates, reptiles, and birds, as well as derivative products such as clothing, beauty products, food items, traditional medicines and handicrafts. CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an international agreement to ensure that trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Trade performed in breach of CITES is illegal.

“Environmental crime has a direct impact on climate change, harms the livelihoods of millions of people, results in forced migration and can trigger the spread of animal-to-human viruses (zoonotic diseases)”

Targeting the criminal networks

Although results are still coming in, Operation Thunder 2021 has so far seen more than 1,000 seizures and the identification of some 300 suspects, triggering worldwide arrests and investigations linked to illegal trading, processing, exporting and importing CITES-listed wildlife and forestry products.

Further arrests and prosecutions are foreseen globally as investigations continue to unfold. “Organized crime networks are generating billions in illicit profits every year, at significant cost to our environment as well as the associated impacts of fraud, corruption and violence,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock. “We are seeing the continued globalization of crime, which means only an international response can be effective, as demonstrated with this latest Operation Thunder. Every one of our 195 member countries has a role to play in combating this threat, either directly or in the follow-up investigations,” added Secretary General Stock.

Total worldwide seizures reported to date include:

-478 kg ivory pieces and 487 kg ivory-derived products

-75 big cat parts, 29 live big cats

-856 kg pangolin scales

-531 turtles and tortoises

-171 birds

-336 reptiles

-4,843 kg marine products, including corals

-75,320 kg timber, including 313m3 of rosewood

-1.4 million plant-derived items

“With criminals trafficking endangered species along the same routes they use to smuggle other illicit goods, customs is strategically placed at borders to intercept illegally traded CITES-listed products,” said WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya. “Large-scale cross-border operations such as Operation Thunder 2021 illustrate the benefits and impact global law enforcement cooperation has in deterring wildlife crime, putting its perpetrators behind bars, and raising awareness of its devastating effects,” added Dr Mikuriya. On the border with Mozambique, South African authorities seized 460 kg of abalone bound for China. Abalone molluscs are at critically low levels because of over-exploitation.

Myanmar authorities made 13 seizures nationwide totalling 68 tonnes of restricted and endangered hardwood species.

Polish authorities intercepted 29 illegal caviar shipments including one batch valued at USD 10,000.  International trade in all species of sturgeons is CITES-regulated. In one of the operation’s largest plant-based seizures, the UK’s Border Force in Felixstowe seized from a maritime container 1.3 million tablets containing CITES-listed Saussurea Costus plant. Spain’s Guardia Civil seized more than 250 CITES-protected items worth EUR 250,000, including turtles, parrots, ivory-based merchandise and timber.

Authorities in the Netherlands intercepted 145 snakes and other reptiles in luggage at Schiphol International Airport, as well as 454 live birds, mostly African songbirds.

Trends identified so far include:

-increase in illegal money transfers to launder the proceeds of wildlife and timber crime,

-use of online platforms to facilitate cross-border trafficking,

-more commercial and customs document fraud for export, transit, and import,

-links with other serious crime, as seen by Namibia which reported 14 wildlife crime cases linked to the illegal trade in

-pharmaceutical products, food and vehicle parts.

In seizures that suggest some emerging trafficking routes, Nicaraguan authorities seized 657 m3 of rosewood bound for China, while Hong Kong (China) authorities seized 3.2 tonnes of red sandalwood in freight from the United Arab Emirates.

Demonstrating the link between wildlife and drug crime, Operation Thunder 2021 saw Mexican authorities arrest three Chinese nationals smuggling Totoaba bladders, sea cucumber and coral along with methamphetamine and cash.

“The volume of seizures made during Operation Thunder 2021 proves how serious the transnational organized crime threat is for wild species and ecosystems across range, transit and destination countries,” said CITES Secretary General Ivonne Higuero. “The success of Operation Thunder 2021 strongly contributes to the strategic vision of CITES Parties, and reinforces that we must work together, combining different skills, mandates and resources to reduce threats to wildlife and live in harmony with nature,” added Ms Higuero.

Intelligence-led field operations

Police and customs shared wildlife and timber trafficking intelligence ahead of the operation enabling field officers to target specific trafficking hotspots during the tactical phase, with an emphasis on land, sea and airport border points as well as wildlife parks. Known criminals, particularly INTERPOL red notice fugitives, were identified ahead of operations, along with companies used to facilitate wildlife and timber crime. Since the first edition in 2017, Thunder operations have seen some 8,000 seizures of protected wildlife and forestry species and the arrest of more than 3,000 offenders.  

Operation Thunder 2021 is the fifth in a global series initiated by the INTERPOL Wildlife Crime Working Group.  Coordinated jointly by the WCO and INTERPOL, with the backing of the CITES Secretariat and the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), these operational efforts are funded by the European Commission’s department for International Partnerships and the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

INTERPOL’s environmental security activities are all externally funded and dependent on sustainable partnerships.

https://www.interpol.int

12/07/2021

SYDNEY, (Reuters) - The Reserve Bank of Australia, like some other major central banks, has stepped up research into running its own digital currency, but remains unconvinced of the merits, its payments chief said on Thursday.

The comments, made at a financial services conference, follow an Australian Senate report last month that called for laws to be changed in ways that were more amenable to digital currencies.

Most major economies are now considering whether to issue a central bank digital currency (CBDC) - an internet-only cash equivalent that is different to cryptocurrency since it is not de-centralised - although none have done so yet, said Reserve Bank of Australia head of payments policy Tony Richards.

However, "given the possibility that the balance could shift towards a case for issuance of retail CBDCs, the Bank has been stepping up its CBDC research", Richards said in a speech at the Australian Corporate Treasury Association.

Noting that the European Central Bank and Sweden appeared to be the most advanced of the major economies to consider a role for CBDCs, Richards said the U.S. Federal Reserve was more cautious.

"Reserve Bank (of Australia) staff have also not been convinced to date that a strong policy case has emerged in Australia for a CBDC," he said.

"Australia's existing electronic payments system already provides households and businesses with a wide range of safe, convenient and low-cost payment services."

Amid the rush to internet-only money, which has been spurred along partly by the shift toward online living during the pandemic, Australia's biggest bank also said this month that it was offering some cryptocurrency trading services via its smartphone app.

 

https://www.reuters.com

12/06/2021

INTERPOL-coordinated operation saw 22 jurisdictions around the world cooperate to swiftly intercept the illicit proceeds of online fraud

LYON, France: An operation coordinated by INTERPOL codenamed HAECHI-II saw police arrest more than 1,000 individuals and intercept a total of nearly USD 27 million of illicit funds, underlining the global threat of cyber-enabled financial crime.

Taking place over four months from June to September 2021, Operation HAECHI-II brought together specialized police units from 20 countries, as well as from Hong Kong and Macao, to target specific types of online fraud, such as romance scams, investment fraud and money laundering associated with illegal online gambling.

In total, the operation resulted in the arrest of 1,003 individuals and allowed investigators to close 1,660 cases. In addition 2,350 bank accounts linked to the illicit proceeds of online financial crime were blocked. More than 50 INTERPOL notices were published based on information relating to Operation HAECHI-II and 10 new criminal modus operandi were identified.

HAECHI-II is the second operation in a three-year project to tackle cyber-enabled financial crime supported by the Republic of Korea and the first that is truly global in scope, with the participation of INTERPOL member countries on every continent.

The operation also saw INTERPOL officials pilot test a new global stop-payment mechanism – the Anti-Money Laundering Rapid Response Protocol (ARRP) – which proved critical to successfully intercepting illicit funds in several HAECHI-II cases.

“The results of Operation HAECHI-II show that the surge in online financial crime generated by the COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of waning,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock.

“It also underlines the essential and unique role played by INTERPOL in assisting member countries combat a crime which is borderless by nature.

“Only through this level of global cooperation and coordination can national law enforcement effectively tackle what is a parallel cybercrime pandemic,” added Secretary General Stock.

As INTERPOL looks to officially launch the ARRP next year, the organization’s financial crime unit is continuing to work with member countries to integrate the system into existing communications channels.

Race against time                                                                                        

Far from the common notion of online fraud as a relatively low-level and low stakes type of criminality, the results of Operation HAECHI-II show that transnational organized crime groups have been using the Internet to extract millions from their victims before funneling the illicit cash to bank accounts across the globe.

In a single case in Colombia, a prominent textiles company found itself defrauded of more than USD 8 million through a sophisticated business email compromise scam. The perpetrators impersonated the legal representative of the company, giving the order to transfer more than USD 16 million to two Chinese bank accounts. Half of the money was transferred before the company uncovered the fraud and alerted the Colombian judicial authorities, which in turn quickly contacted INTERPOL’s financial crime unit through their National Central Bureau (NCB) in Bogota.

Leveraging the new ARRP network, international police cooperation channels were activated between INTERPOL bureaus in Beijing, Bogota and Hong Kong to freeze the transferred funds. Thanks to this new network, which streamlines police communication in international stop payment cases, over 94 per cent of the money was intercepted in record time, saving the Colombian company from bankruptcy.

"Intercepting the illicit proceeds of online financial crimes before they disappear into the pockets of money mules is a race against time and we have worked closely with the Attorney General’s Office to move as decisively as possible," said General Jorge Luis Vargas Valencia, Director General of the Colombian National Police.

"Given the high level of complexity of coordination with law enforcement units and banking institutions on the other side of the world, INTERPOL's coordination role has been essential to achieving this result," added Francisco Barbosa, Attorney General of Colombia, whose office oversaw the case.

In another case, a company in Slovenia was duped into transferring more than USD 800,000 to money mule accounts in China. Again, as the Slovenian Criminal Police opened an investigation and reached out to their foreign counterparts through INTERPOL and other channels, streamlined coordination through China’s INTERPOL NCB in Beijing allowed local authorities to successfully intercept and return the stolen funds to Slovenia in full.

Squid Game

Months of close collaboration between specialized police units around the world also generated significant intelligence on emerging trends in online financial crime. Based on information gained during Operation HAECHI-II, INTERPOL published multiple Purple Notices – international police alerts that seek or provide information on modus operandi, objects, devices and concealment methods used by criminals. The notices are then shared with INTERPOL’s 194 member countries so that police can exchange on emerging criminal methods and establish connections between cases.

One Purple Notice requested by Colombia during the operation details a malware-laden mobile application using the name and branding of the Netflix show ‘Squid Game’. Masquerading as a product affiliated with the popular television series, the app was in fact a Trojan horse virus that, once downloaded, was able to hack the user’s billing information and subscribe to paid ‘premium’ services without the user’s explicit approval. While flagged in Colombia, the app has also targeted users in other countries. The operation also benefited from the expertise of INTERPOL’s cybercrime capabilities to assist member countries in tackling the increasing threat of cyber-enabled fraud.

“Online scams like those leveraging malicious apps evolve as quickly as the cultural trends they opportunistically exploit,” said José De Gracia, Assistant Director, Criminal Networks at INTERPOL. “Sharing information on emerging threats is vital to the ability of police to protect the victims of online financial crime. It also lets police know that no country is alone in this fight. Operation HAECHI-II shows that we can successfully strike back against this threat when we act together.”

The following countries participated in Operation HAECHI-II: Angola, Brunei, Cambodia, Colombia, China, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Korea (Rep. of), Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines, Romania, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand, and Vietnam.

https://www.interpol.int

12/03/2021

ISTANBUL, Turkey – The 89th INTERPOL General Assembly has opened in Turkey, with delegates voting to admit the Federated States of Micronesia as the Organization’s 195th member country.

The in-person three-day (23 – 25 November) meeting brings together nearly 470 police chiefs, ministers and senior law enforcement officials from some 160 countries to identify areas where INTERPOL can reinforce the global security architecture.

With COVID-19 resulting in a parallel crime pandemic, particularly in relation to cybercrime and online child sexual exploitation, delegates will discuss proposals to advance the Organization’s technical and operational support to member countries in these areas.

In a video address to the meeting, President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said: “It is an honour to host the INTERPOL General Assembly in this city where civilizations meet.

“I believe this meeting is going to contribute greatly to the safety and security of all our countries.”

INTERPOL President Kim Jong Yang said law enforcement must continue to bridge the growing gaps caused by rapid technological changes.

“As an organization, INTERPOL must ensure that its systems can keep pace with the speed of change.

“This is essential to address the evolution of autonomous systems, and the opportunities for criminal exploitation of the almost complete merging of the physical and digital worlds,” said President Kim.

Welcoming delegates, Mehmet Aktaş, Director General of Turkish National Police said: “In order to safeguard our future, we have to enhance our cooperation, especially in the fight against cybercrime and terrorism.

“Our close cooperation with INTERPOL, which aims to connect police for a safer world, makes a significant contribution to the prevention and elimination of crime at the international level.”

The General Assembly, which was officially opened by the Turkish Minister of the Interior, Süleyman Soylu, will also see elections for new members of the Executive Committee, including the post of President.

Meeting three times a year, the Executive Committee is the governing body in charge of supervising the implementation of the General Assembly’s decisions and the administration and work of the General Secretariat.

The Secretary General is responsible for the day-to-day running of the INTERPOL General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France.  The current Secretary General is Jürgen Stock, who was first elected in 2014 and whose second mandate will end in 2024.

https://www.interpol.int

12/02/2021

Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (“MENAFATF”) concluded, Wednesday, 16 November 2021, and over two days, the works of the MENAFATF 33rd Plenary, which was held in Cairo, the Arab Republic of Egypt under the chairmanship of His Excellency Counselor/ Ahmed Saeed Hussein Khalil – MENAFATF President, Vice-President of the Court of Cassation and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Egyptian Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Unit (“EMLCU”).

The meeting witnessed the attendance of the heads of delegations and experts in anti-money laundering and terrorist financing (“AML/CFT”) from member countries, in addition to experts from the observer countries and the international bodies concerned with AML/CFT and proliferation, under the leadership of the Financial Action Task Force (“FATF”), the United Nations (“UN”), Germany, Australia and other countries and bodies.  

It is worth noting that the concluded Plenary was preceded by a number of MENAFATF’s working groups’ meetings “virtual meetings” during the period from 07 to 11 November 2021, which included the 38th meeting of the Mutual Evaluation Working Group (“MEWG”), the 32nd meeting of the Technical Assistance and Typologies Working Group (“TATWG”), and the 31st meeting of the Financial intelligence Units (“FIUs”) Forum, and the 13th meeting of the Risk Committee (“RC”).

Over the course of two days, the plenary discussed a number of administrative issues related to the MENAFATF work set on its agenda, the most important of which are the MENAFATF’s strategic plan for 2022-2024, the report of the MENAFATF’s advisory committee, the MENAFATF’s latest activities, and issues related to membership therein, whereas the plenary considered the membership request submitted by the Russian Federation, in addition other relevant matters.

Within the area of ME process, a number of subsequent Follow-Up Reports (“EFURs”) was adopted, including the 3rd EFUR of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania; the 1st EFUR of the United Arab Emirates, which included a Technical Compliance re-rating request for some recommendations; The two EFURs of the Kingdom of Morocco and the Republic of Tunisia which were discussed and approved without a Technical Compliance re-rating request, as the reports of each country clarified the efforts exerted in the course of addressing the shortcomings during the implementation of the recommended actions contained in their reports; Adoption of the timetable for both, the Mutual Evaluation under the second round and the Follow-Up process under the first round, as well as the timetable for the Follow-Up process under the second round.

In the same context, the Plenary adopted several typologies reports projects, where the fourth edition of the 2020 typologies project report and the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the AML/CFT systems in the Middle East and North Africa were approved. In addition, the Plenary reviewed several other topics, including the training programs plan and webinars for 2022, the e-learning platform and other future projects.

These meetings come within the framework of strengthening and unifying regional and international efforts in the Middle East and North Africa to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation to protect the economic, social and political systems from the risks of such crimes.

On the other hand, the Plenary addressed the MENAFATF’s relationship with international and regional bodies and organizations working in the field of AML/CFT, as well as the current and future cooperation therewith, including with the FATF.

http://www.menafatf.org

12/01/2021

Date 23/11/2021

Hong Kong FinTech Week (HKFW) 2021 ended on November 5, closing a global conference exploring an array of business opportunities for the fintech industry in Hong Kong and across the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA). The Week, which featured renowned speakers from around the world, revealed several key policy announcements and put a spotlight on Hong Kong as the destination for fintech start-ups and scale-ups to expand business in Asia.

The five-day event championed "Scaling FinTech Future Together", a celebration of Hong Kong as an attractive hub for start-ups and scale-ups in the region, and a showcase of exciting fintech collaboration. HKFW attracted over 20 000 attendees. The conference was host to over 300 speakers, more than 400 exhibitors, and 39 international delegations and representatives. Twenty-seven satellite events and thousands of business meetings were arranged through the event and via the online platforms. This was the first HKFW in a hybrid format, drawing more than four million online views and providing a seamless experience to worldwide audiences from 87 economies to learn more about the city's fast-growing fintech ecosystem.
 
This Asian global fintech event was led by the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau and Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK). It was co-organised by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), and the Insurance Authority (IA).
 
The Financial Secretary, Mr Paul Chan, said, "Despite COVID-19 and numerous other challenges, Hong Kong remains a prime international financial centre. The National 14th Five-Year Plan supports Hong Kong's continuing efforts to reinforce the city's status as a global financial centre and offerings, and backs the development of Hong Kong as an international innovation and technology hub. Thanks to our 'one country, two systems' institutional strength, Hong Kong remains the destination of choice for fintech companies looking to operate or expand, locally, regionally and globally."
 
New policy measures and proposals
 
Notable policy measures and proposals were announced by the Government and regulators to set the global fintech agenda and secure Hong Kong's future as the most attractive international centre for the research and development of fintech products and services.
 
The Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr Christopher Hui, announced a three-pronged strategy to foster fintech development. The three areas were: opening-up government data and introducing a shared platform; establishing and chairing the "Coordination Group on Implementation of Fintech Initiatives"; and launching again the "Financial Practitioners Fintech Training Programme".
Mr Hui also shared the Bureau's plans to grow the fintech ecosystem through cross-boundary co-ordination and nurturing fintech talent.

The HKMA launched a green bond tokenisation and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Regtech Lab to support fintech 2025 strategy. The HKMA announced the launch of the AML Regtech Lab in collaboration with Cyberport to encourage regtech adoption. It will also study the feasibility of piloting the issuance of tokenised green bonds under the Government Green Bond Programme.
 
The SFC is reviewing the regulatory regime for virtual assets and is in close contact with the HKMA with a view to issuing a joint circular on the outcome after the review. The IA widened its support for insurtech. The IA is examining the possibility of allowing more users to access the existing Insurtech Sandbox to test innovative ways of doing business, and enabling an Open API Framework for the insurance sector in 2022.

Industry initiatives and insights    

Many industry initiatives were announced at the event, showcasing Hong Kong's vibrant cross-boundary ecosystem with the GBA and beyond.
The People's Bank of China signaled stronger regulatory framework for data protection. The Governor for the People's Bank of China, Mr Yi Gang, committed to stronger oversight for personal data protection in the financial services industry with a "sound legal and regulatory framework".

The Chief Executive of the HKMA, Mr Eddie Yue, moderated a panel discussion on digital transformation challenges faced by traditional financial firms featuring Co-Founder and Executive Vice Chairman of Alibaba Group Mr Joe Tsai; the Steward of Sequoia Capital, and the Founding and Managing Partner of Sequoia Capital China, Mr Neil Shen; and Group Executive of the HSBC Group and Co-Chief Executive of HSBC Asia-Pacific, Mr David Liao.

The Head of the BIS Innovation Hub Centre in Hong Kong, Ms Bénédicte Nolens, and senior central bankers discussed the vision for the mBridge cross-border central bank digital currency platform, a collaboration among the HKMA, the BIS Innovation Hub Centre in Hong Kong, the Bank of Thailand, the Digital Currency Institute of the People's Bank of China and the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates.
 
The Hong Kong and the GBA as a Digital Finance Hub panel featured the Under Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr Joseph Chan; the Chairman of AMTD Group, Dr Calvin Choi; the CEO and Founding Partner for BitRock Capital, Mr Alfred Shang; and the Vice President of Tencent Holdings and Chairman of Fusion Bank, Mr Jim Lai.
 
The Associate Director-General of Investment Promotion for InvestHK, Mr Charles Ng, presented the opportunities for fintech firms to fast track growth and expansion in Hong Kong at the session FintechHK - Fast-track Your Next Success. Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) unveiled the FinTech Virtual Lab (first open federated learning network to go live in Hong Kong). Operating under the HKSTP's flagship STP Platform and supported by the HKMA, the lab enables banks, financial institutions and fintech companies to build and test their latest innovations.
 

https://mondovisione.com

11/30/2021

Egypt State Information Service (Cairo)

Egypt's Permanent Delegate to the UN Ambassador Osama Abdel Khaleq took part on Thursday in a joint meeting of the Counter-Terrorism Committee and the Da'esh and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, held at United Nations Headquarters, New York on "Terrorist-financing threats and trends and the implementation of Security Council resolution 2462 (2019).

In a press statement, Egypt's Permanent Mission to the UN said the Egyptian delegate reviewed during the meeting Egypt's recent efforts to control the circles of funding terrorism and the response to renewed challenges in this regard.

Egypt's efforts were praised by The Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF), which is a FATF-style regional body (FSRB) for countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Through the organization, members work to adopt and implement the FATF recommendations as well as anti-terrorism treaties and UN Security Council resolutions, added the statement.

The Egyptian diplomat pointed out to the current fruitful cooperation between the money laundering and terrorism combat unit in Egypt, the UN Office on Countering Terrorism and the UN Center for Countering Terrorism in the field of building capabilities of the region in the field of countering the funding of terrorism. He asserted that Egypt is working on developing such cooperation in the coming phase.

https://allafrica.com

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